In morphosyntax, co-analysis is a concept proposed by Williams (1979) and Di Sciullo & Williams (1987) to account for a situation where one grammatical function (e.g. possessive) is expressed syntactically as well as morphologically, i.e. by adding a grammatical element both to a phrase as a whole and to the head of that phrase.
The English possessive marker 's sometimes appears to be attached to a possessor phrase as a whole (cf. (i)), and in other cases it seems to be attached to a noun (cf. (ii)):
(i) [the man on the corner]'s hat
(ii) his hat (= [he]'s hat)
Phrases such as the one in (iii) are ambiguous, since the possessive is either attached to the NP the man or to the N man. To account for this ambiguity, Williams & Di Sciullo assign a co-analyzed structure to the NP the man's, cf. (iv):
(iii) the man's hat (= [the man]'s hat or the [man]'s hat)
NP / \ NP \ / \ \ the man's hat \ | / \ N / \ \ / \ N \ / NP
Co-analysis means that a syntactic and a morphological representation are assigned to one phrase.
- Di Sciullo, A. M. & Williams, E. 1987. On the Definition of Word. Cambridge, Mass: MIT-press.
- Williams, E. 1979. Discourse and Logical Form. Linguistic Inquiry 8-1, 101-139.